Monday, June 8, 2009
"Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye?" (Matthew 7:4 – NASB)
Four days ago, our Reformed brother in Christ, Ken Temple, stimulated a significant number of comments in the James White’s 1995 essay returns thread. Just minutes ago, I responded to Ken’s most recent post, and then headed to cyberspace to pursue what has been transpiring on some of the blogs I tend to follow (many of which are known for their anti-Catholic stance). On AOMIN’s blog, I came across a new post by James Swan (posted earlier today), which is germane to the AF thread I linked to above. Apart from James’ observation/s concerning the proliferation and sales of popular apologetic literature in the 16th and 21st centuries, one finds the same, tired, old, polemic concerning Scripture and Tradition which is found in so many “popular” Evangelical treatments (including White’s essay referenced above). The primary deficiency of James’ entry does not stem from his reflections on the certain inconsistencies one finds in contemporary “popular” apologetic Catholic literature, but rather from the neglect of two important issues: first, the failure to come to grips with much of the same inconsistencies that exist within various sola scriptura paradigms; and second, the wholesale neglect of recent Catholic scholarship on the relationship between Scripture and Tradition.
Concerning the first issue, this Beachbum is still waiting for a scholarly, or even a cogent, detailed ‘lay’, response(s) to A.N.S. Lane’s insightful essay, and/or D.H. Williams’ important contributions which include:
Retrieving the Tradition & Renewing Evangelicalism
Evangelicals and Tradition
Tradition, Scripture, and Interpretation
“The Search For Sola Scriptura in the Early Church”, Interpretation, October 1998, pp. 354-366.
As for the second issue, the contributions of important Catholic scholars such as Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI (Opening Up the Scriptures; Revelation and Tradition; “The Transmission of Divine Revelation” in Commentary On The Documents of Vatican II – Vol. III), Avery Dulles (“Revelation, Scripture and Tradition” in Your Word Is Truth), Thomas Guarino (“Catholic Reflections on Discerning the Truth of Sacred Scripture” in Your Word Is Truth), and Karl Rahner (“Scripture and Tradition” in Theological Investigatons – Vol. 6), to name but a few, are avoided.
There are also the contributions by yours truly under the SOLA SCRIPTURA LABEL which include numerous quotes from the literature referenced above, along with some personal reflections.
So much for what does NOT appear in James’ post. Now, a brief critique of something that IS in the contribution—James wrote:
Others refer to Tradition as interpretation, yet until a dogma is infallibly defined, Roman Catholics are granted freedom to privately interpret. The history of Roman Catholic theology is replete with multiple private interpretations on virtually every aspect of theology. Even after an infallible definition, Roman Catholics are granted freedom to interpret infallible pronouncements, as long as they do not contradict that infallible pronouncement. Therefore, in terms of certainty, Tradition does not provide what her apologists claim- they are not reproducing a body of truth from the apostles, but rather are invoking anachronism by claiming her recent developments were held by the apostles, when in fact they are the result of the movement of private interpretation within the church.
So, “Traditon does not provide certainty”? I have come across this statement (or its equivalents) numerous times. It is not difficult to demonstrate that such assertions lack substance—for instance, Arians and Socinians are able to mount significant challenges to the full Deity of the Son of God, and the doctrine of the Trinity via sola scriptura; however, the clarity of Tradition, via the Nicene Creed, the Chalcedonian definition, Trent, et al., allows no room for doubt on these important issues. (See HERE and HERE for further reflections.)
Grace and peace,
July 02, 2009 update: earlier today, James Swan posted a NEW THREAD that is related to this one.